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Trinidad and Tobago

Time Zone UTC – 

Capital City – Port of Spain

Currency – Trinidadian Dollar

National Day – 31 August

His Excellency Mr Vishnu Dhanpaul 
High Commissioner
High Commission of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago
42 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8NT
T: 0207 245-9351 or 0207 201-9650
E: hclondon@foreign.gov.tt 


Trinidad and Tobago’s new High Commissioner His Excellency Vishnu Dhanpaul came to the UK with his wife in October 2021, which has been quite a change from the sandy beaches and blue waters of Trinidad and Tobago. “Initially, I was leaving the house in the dark and getting home in the dark, which was very strange. But I lived in Washington DC for six years, so it was not too much of a culture shock.”

High Commissioner Dhanpaul followed his father into public service. “It has been an interesting, intellectually stimulating, and varied career. I have been seconded to various agencies including the World Bank and the IMF, and spent a few months at our Embassy in Washington, as well as serving on several state boards.” Indeed, he was President of the Tourism and Industrial Development Company and the Tourism Development Company. “All these roles have helped me on the path to where I am today.” He comes from a position as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, a job that has allowed him “to see things a little differently and offered me a wider outlook on life and the world.”

Although he admits he was surprised to get the call about his latest appointment, he believes the move to the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs has been “a natural fit. Any call I receive to serve my country is a good call for me, and I would never say no. I’m fiercely patriotic.” Indeed, one of the most memorable days of his career was when he received a Public Service Medal of Merit Gold for his service to Trinidad and Tobago.

His stint at the Ministry of Finance has provided him with “a good feel for how the economy functions, and what can continue to drive the economy. Part of my mandate is to generate opportunities for trade and investment back in Trinidad and Tobago. We have a long history of British entrepreneurs and large Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), such as BP, which has a huge presence in Trinidad and Tobago. He’d also like to generate FDI outside the energy sector to try and drive some employment creation, such as in the tourism, manufacturing and financial services sectors. (“To be clear,” he clarifies, “this is not the creation of an offshore financial centre. We don’t want to be lumped in that category at all.”) Whilst he is High Commissioner in the UK, he is also accredited to Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Following Brexit, High Commissioner Dhanpaul notes that CARIFORUM (Caricom countries and the Dominican Republic) now has economic partnership agreements with both the EU and UK. “We have been great partners with the UK over the years. Having opened on Independence Day, 31 August 1962, the High Commission has now been here for 60 years!  So, later this year we look forward to celebrating 60 years of independence and 60 years in the UK!”

In terms of climate diplomacy, he quotes his Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s speech at COP26: “We are in the process of establishing the largest utility-scale solar renewable energy project in the Caribbean. Secondly, we are developing an e-mobility policy and we are already implementing measures to phase in electric vehicles. We recognise the need to address the socio-economic issues associated with the energy transition and have developed a ‘Just Transition of the Workforce Policy’ aimed at reskilling, retooling and developing new capacity for a low carbon economy. We are pursuing measures to facilitate investment in green hydrogen to provide green feedstock to our vibrant petrochemical industry. We intend to explore the use of industry-generated CO2 in possible carbon sequestration projects… As an economy largely based on oil and gas and petrochemicals, we in Trinidad and Tobago recognise our responsibility in transitioning, over reasonable and manageable time, to net zero. We have set very ambitious targets aimed at diversifying our economy.”

With regards to the health pandemic, the High Commissioner notes that his government “deserves some kudos: they continued to pay the entire public service throughout lockdown. Essentially the government had to borrow to pay public servants even when they were at home. It’s an incredible thing for a developing country to be able to do.” He continues, “Most of our restrictions have been lifted, and all flights have resumed to beautiful Trinidad and Tobago, but we have kept the mandate to wear masks. We believe this is key – especially on public transport.”

Although things look brighter on the COVID front, High Commissioner Dhanpaul notes that his country still has some major diplomatic challenges.  “The fact that we have been blacklisted by the EU and the Global Forum is an economic and legislative challenge. They have classified Trinidad and Tobago as an offshore financial centre and a tax haven, which has created problems for our banking system.” He stressed again that Trinidad and Tobago is not an off-shore financial centre.  Secondly, his country has a major migration issue with Venezuela. “We are six miles off the coast of Venezuela, and many illegal migrants travel to Trinidad and Tobago. We cover an area of 1,980 square miles or a little over  5,000 square km, and obviously we can’t absorb a huge amount of people. But we are doing our best. We have registered over 16,000 Venezuelans and given them access to primary healthcare while providing education opportunities.  But we are a small country, and this puts a tremendous strain on our social systems.” He continues: “we are deeply committed to and concerned with safeguarding the human rights and meeting the humanitarian needs of Venezuelan nationals. We have done our best, and I think we should be commended for that.”

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